Human rights organizations issue communique
Posted: Saturday, December 7, 2002
11 Venezuelan human rights organizations belonging to the Foro por la Vida umbrella have issued a communique outlining their position in the political conflict and crisis of governance. Reiterating its conviction that the main problems of the country are social exclusion, institutional weakness, disassociation between politics and ethics and intolerance, Foro por la Vida says the current debate seems to forget the fact that the problems are age-old structural problems and do not depend on the resignation or permanence of one President.
"What is important now is to reduce the level of political violence and the only way to do this in a democracy is consulting the citizens about the future."
The group asks government and opposition to Reach an agreement quickly about the characteristics of the consultation Collaborate to ensure a trustworthy National Electoral College (CNE) and Electoral Register Recognize each other as valid representatives of diverse and legitimate visions of Venezuela Drop sectorial interests in favor of collective interests.
The absence of agreement between government and opposition about the kind of consultation is a stimulus for violence.
The group praises and supports the efforts of Organization of American States (OAS) general secretary Cesar Gaviria to push dialogue forward and values his patience, mediation and concern for peace.
As for the national stoppage, it is an exercise of the right to protest but calling on the Armed Force (FAN) to take sides in the conflict cannot be justified. "We question Federation of Chambers of Industry & Commerce (Fedecamaras) president and Confederation of Trade Unions (CTV) president for calling on the FAN to intervene.
"Like every right, the right to strike and protest are not unlimited ... as stipulated in International Labor organization (ILO) agreements, essential services must be guaranteed by the State and the private sector ... that implies negotiation between the two sides to guarantee the services in benefit of the community."
The group notes situations of social intolerance against companies or businesses that decided not to join the stoppage ..."incidents such as these involving the use of violence, must be investigated and punished."
The National Guard (GN) without any type of mediation dispersed a pacific protest on December 2-3 in front of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) Chuao HQ using tear gas and pellets. The governmentís argument that the GN acted within the law because of the security zone decree (La Carlota Air Base is in the vicinity) is questioned ... "the decree itself is under question and therefore, using the decree to justify restricting a pacific protest is under question as well ... "the incident must be investigated and punished."
Foro por la Vida calls on the Public Powers to make a speedy decision regarding the investigations and calls on the government and local authorities to take relevant measures to guarantee the exercise of every citizenís human rights, both those who have joined the stoppage as well as those who decided to go to work.
"We call on all employers not to violate their workerís rights to receive their salary and working timetables."
In a message to the media (State and private) the group asks them to foster an environment favorable to understanding, publish diversity of ideas and opinions about the current crisis and condemn any alteration of constitutional order and violence.